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FREED: U.Va. has failed Jewish students

I was beyond disappointed by the lack of communication to the student body about this incident

<p>&nbsp;Failing to recognize the situation is failing to stand up for the Jewish community.&nbsp;</p>

 Failing to recognize the situation is failing to stand up for the Jewish community. 

I almost missed it while I was scrolling through stories on Instagram, but there it was — a video posted by the Chabad House of a young man gleefully stealing a sign welcoming Jewish students to the home. This comes just days after Ye took to social media to unleash a hateful tirade against Jewish people. And while anti-semitism is nothing new to the University, it seemed to follow a pattern of increased hate crimes directed towards Jewish people all over the country. I must’ve watched that video 100 times — the man smiling as he undid the signs and ran off the porch. More than anything, I was taken aback by how brazen the act was — the man was unmasked and unhurried. But believing that there being a video would draw more eyes to the situation, I chose to take some comfort in his carelessness. Nearly two weeks later with not so much as an email from administration, I proved to be very wrong in this belief. I implore the University to right its wrongs and communicate the seriousness of this crime to the student body. 

The Chabad House describes itself as a “home away from home” for Jewish students. The home hosts Shabbat dinners, offers one-on-one Torah study with a rabbi and countless other valuable services to Jewish students. These students frequently attend Shabbat dinner at the house and use it as a way of connecting with other Jewish students. Chabad houses have a rich history in the U.S. dating back to the 1960s, when the first Chabad house opened for university students at the University of California, Los Angeles. Created by rabbi and one of the most influential Jewish leaders in the 20th century, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad houses are meant to be the ultimate Jewish cultural centers. Chabad houses are a safe space for Jewish people and non-Jewish people to learn about the Jewish faith. The members of the homes often organize service trips to prisons and hospitals and houses are known to even hold counseling services. More than what they offer, the mere presence of Chabad houses play an important role in making Jewish students feel welcomed.

In response, Channa Mayer, program co-director of Chabad House, filed a police report with the Charlottesville Police Department. In addition, the University is partnering with the University Police Department to identify the suspect in the video. While these actions are a necessary step given the circumstances, I was beyond disappointed by the lack of communication to the student body about this incident. I know I am not alone in often feeling like my inbox is inundated with messages from the University.  We get emails about every robbery, every assault and every act of vandalism that happens within a two-mile radius of the Lawn. So why is it that this situation went unrecognized? 

Students should not have to be actively following the Chabad Houses’ Instagram page or be closely reading The Cavalier Daily to hear of a crime happening on Grounds, especially one that affects Jewish students. The responsibility of informing students should not be solely placed on students. Moreover, the University knows better than to attempt to sweep this all under the rug. Whether this person is a student or not, what is the center of Jewish life here at the University was vandalized on administration's watch — and it was silent. 

Recognition matters. It may not lead to the situation resolving quicker, but it matters. Failing to recognize the situation is failing to stand up for the Jewish community. Doing the right thing costs absolutely nothing yet means everything. Administration should treat this situation with the seriousness it deserves. I must remind those people that everything starts small. Failing to act even when the action is small is akin to endorsing it to continue and allowing the situation to worsen. None of this was an accident. A sign welcoming Jewish students to Grounds was stolen. It is well past time the University stands up for Jewish students and recognizes the crime in a University-wide communication. 

Dan Freed is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.


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